Don’t leave women behind

In the run-up to International Women’s Day conversation intensified on the particular effects of the pandemic on women in the workplace.

Despite positive feedback from the Hampton Alexander Review about an increase in the number of women on boards, the fear is that the government’s decision to postpone 2020 Gender Pay Gap reporting for six months (following a complete suspension last year) will mask a growing representation, equality of opportunity, and culture challenge that needs to be called out and dealt with now. Particularly for those in lower-paid, part-time, or contractually insecure roles.

Leading 2020 gender pay gap reporters are addressing this by focusing on ‘culture’ and ‘wellbeing’ in their reporting - positioning wellbeing not just as an individual responsibility but a critical business strategy. Many are also pushing ahead with voluntary ethnicity pay gap disclosure.

A good example is John Lewis, who for the second year, has published a broader ‘Be Yourself. Always Report’ which houses their gender and ethnicity pay gap data. In light of 2020 criticism over leadership representation, the report takes a humble, determined, and long-term tone. Leading with a clear four-part Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) plan and an ambition 'to be recognised as the UK’s most inclusive business by Partners, customers, suppliers and the wider community', John Lewis provides robust content on health and well-being, and clearly considers a key audience for their report – their people.

Few go this far, but businesses across the UK are using their gender pay gap reports to set the wider context of their D&I strategy and commitment to talent. This provides key stakeholders with a clearer narrative, plus any potentially negative data becomes more understandable in the context of businesses doing all they can to be fair and inclusive to all.

It’s clear that adverse implications for diversity and inclusion as a consequence of the pandemic – both now and as the return to the workplace begins – will place an even more prominent focus on the role of open and sensitive communications.

If you have any questions on communicating culture and wellbeing within your broader Diversity & Inclusion reporting, please get in touch with Hannah Griffiths, Director, Sustainability Strategy.

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